Much-appreciated support in the face of uncertainty

Part 5 in a series chronicling the One Sorry Blog Baseball Card Sell-Off
By Paul Rivas

Editor’s note: One Sorry Blog founder Paul Rivas is selling off his baseball cards on ebay with seller name onesorryblog, keeping only a precious and worthless few. He intends to sell every last card that will bring money at auction and donate the remaining 30,000 for no tax break. Realizing that his last hurrah in the hobby is upon him, Rivas is recording and reflecting on the experience at One Sorry Blog, the thinking collector’s blog.

Fully four people have written the ebay desk of One Sorry Blog in the last week saying how inspiring they’d each found this little series. A few folks have conveyed their comments on the blog to me verbally, perhaps thinking (as I did) that no one else reads it anyway, and a few others have cabled to say that they’re still reading. One bidder sent me a message on ebay suggesting that I might get more bids for one of my rather nice Garnett cards if I listed it in the basketball instead of baseball category.

In every instance, the message has been encouraging, and surprisingly in line with what I posited in the first part of this series, namely that my turning my early life’s work out to the collecting masses at absurdly cheap prices is a good and necessary thing for the hobby. Everybody is stoked on these cards, and wouldn’t they be? I’ve been astonished at what good condition they’re in (like that Moses Malone, for instance), and as I put another 25 for sale every day on ebay, I’m continually finding things that even I find exciting, and I’m supposed to not be interested anymore.

The card shop owner had warned me: “Be careful. This is just how Josh started again. He came in here talking about selling all his cards, and then he’d find something here that he thought was cool. Then he was buying packs, and now he’s collecting again.” I laughed, but kept finding reasons to go back the next day, on my way to or from my parents’ house, where the scanner and good internet connection are. I’ve probably been in the card store every day for the last week, or more times than I had in the last ten years combined.

Yesterday, though, I saw something there that I hadn’t seen before: one of those old 50-count plastic boxes full of 86-87 Fleer basketball singles. Now I don’t know about our readers around the country, but 86-87 Fleer has never been a common sight in Santa Barbara. Nevertheless, there they were, 50% off book. The two that caught my eye were Larry Nance in the dunk contest and Tom Chambers’ rookie card. I knew I couldn’t bring myself to buy them, not with the money I’d just collected from the sale of my 52 Topps Feller. Then I saw the Dennis Johnson, and I told myself that I could sell the DJ on ebay and it would practically pay for the two.

Like almost all the singles in the card shop, they were on consignment, but these happened to belong to a former teammate of mine on the A’s in the coach-pitch league. I wrestled with it for a good minute or two, and the card shop owner even offered to give me my money back after I’d made the purchase. Yet the moment that I picked up a Tom Chambers rookie card from the most iconic set of basketball cards ever made for $2, I knew what an old neighbor of mine had felt two weeks ago when I’d sold him my 89 Upper Deck factory set for $40 in the post office parking lot and he said, “I’ve wanted this since I was a kid!”

That’s the only way I can describe it: I’ve felt like a kid the last couple weeks. This blog is proof, I mean just look at how many new posts have gone up here in the last week versus the last several months. In preparing to give the friend who bought my Feller card a bunch of old commons, I went through a 3200-count box of pre-1986 cards to make sure there wasn’t anything in there that I should keep. I discovered a pile of about 75 cards in penny sleeves containing rookie cards of the likes of Billy Joe Robidoux, the San Diego Chicken and Fred Dryer, whom I only ever knew as Hunter. My friend said he could see how excited I was about this whole card thing again, and I told him that what was so exciting about it was that I had no idea how long it was going to turn out. I changed my mind every day about how much to keep, I didn’t know if half the cards I put on ebay would even sell and I was still only had four or five auctions ending per day. I’ve sold 20 things for $668 thus far, but I have another 152 auctions ending in the next week. Everything is fleeting these days, and I’m finding that I whenever I sit down to do anything related to cards I feel braced with youth. I write these blog entries at 2 a.m., and I’ve been arriving at my parents’ house earlier and earlier in the day.

The biggest news from the Sell-Off in the last couple days has been that my much-touted 93 SP Jeter rookie went for $132.50, whereas a Garnett autographed card that books for $150 and for which I paid $70 went for $29.02. What’s even more astonishing to me is that a Scoreboard Jermaine O’Neal autograph card looks like it’s gonna go for the 99-cent mininum. My big question these days will be how much money these lesser cards go for. I’m only expecting 10 or so of the 152 items currently remaining to bring in more than $10 apiece, but If Kobe scores 100 points in the next day or two, I’ll be rich.

You just never know with ebay, and that’s part of the fun. There obviously aren’t very many Jermaine O’Neal fans looking for his rookie cards this week, but who’s to say that there won’t be next week? All those great cards I listed that don’t look like they’re going to sell for $0.99 have to be worth more than that to somebody, right? Are you telling me nobody wants a Larry Bird card with Rambis in the background for 49p? No one needs a Doug Flutie rookie card in the next 15 hours?

6 responses to “Much-appreciated support in the face of uncertainty

  1. Glad to see I made it into your story as a “friend”—
    a friend who now has a ’52 Feller.

    The excitement continues!

  2. It sounds so much less sinister than “associate”.

  3. You’ve definitely sparked my interest a bit with your card sale/blog posts. I burned out on card collecting over a decade ago. Prior to my purchases from your sale, the last cards I bought were a couple Roethlisberger Rookies his first year (and before that, it had been even longer since I bought a card). Just last night I perused my binder with all my Steelers cards…I still consider those 70s Steelers cards my favorite. I have all the big rookie cards…Bradshaw/Greene/Harris/Lambert/Swann/Ham/Stallworth, etc…as well as most of their cards (Back when players only had one or two cards per year…haha).

    I don’t have my collection from my youth. I’m not even sure what happened to it. Speaking of The San Diego Chicken…I had a ton of ’82 Donruss (I think his rookie year). This was before I was a big baseball fan and I actually got those cards in big multi-pack bags from JJ Newberry’s in Lompoc. Funny thing, I bought the cards for the TV show/movie cards that were in it, not the baseball…haha. Wish I could remember them all, I know Magnum P.I. was in there.

    When I came to college, Fall ’88, it seemed like I got re-invigorated in card collecting. I know the start of it was when Pro-Set came out with Football cards in ’89 (and then Score). I went kinda nuts, bought tons of cards in from ’89-’93…most of which are worth very little. There are a few gems in there…’92 Bowman Piazza I got out of a $2 pack. But far and away, the stuff isn’t worth much. I was big into trying to make sets back in the day…guessing people don’t do that much these days.

    I did make some good trades in the day…I traded a bunch of that junk that was hot at the time to Gary for some of my Steelers rookies…best move I ever made. I traded some Artist Proof of Cal Ripken to a guy on the web for a Ripken rookie. I traded some stuff (don’t even remember what) to Rob Garcia for a set of ’89 UD baseball cards. And I traded every Bo Jackson/Randall Cunningham card I got to Craig…probably just for more junk.

    I have a stack of 3,200 boxes in my garage taller than me that may never get opened. I have a much smaller box and a couple binders in my room of some of my more prize possesions (not just monetary value, but cards I like).

    It has definitely been an interesting experience as a card collector over my life time. While not very active, I could see myself buying a card or two from time to time. But I’m more like to splurge and buy an expensive old rookie card, than to ever get back into opening packs (addict that I once was…haha).

  4. p.s. – Oh yeah, I forgot about another blow dealt to my card collecting career. I had stored a bunch of my cards at my Mom’s house initially, but when she moved from Lompoc to Modesto…I would bring a load to SB every time I came. I lived on West De La Guerra and had to park on the street. I got up the next morning to unload my car, to find a busted window and nearly everything jacked from my car. Include a ton of sets I had put together. I think I had a few ’89-90 baseball sets. The one that pissed me off the most was my ’89 Hoops set that I had painstakingly assembled (due the short printing of some of the cards). Robinson’s rookie was probably at it’s peak then, not sure what it’s worth today. But it was a nice card:

    (not sure if html works in here)

    It wasn’t just cards stolen, but at the time they seemed the most painful…because it was mostly all sets I had hand assembled. In the long run, probably not a huge financial loss, but still sucked! Not to mention the broken window on the might Sprinterossa!

  5. p.p.s – Just remembered another postive trade…I got a ’79 Football set (only one so I don’t need to mention that it was Topps haha) from Gary for a bunch of junk. I wouldn’t mind collecting some more of the 70s/early 80s football sets.

  6. Hey there,
    Question – how do I find out if cards hold value?
    Actually, what I’d like to know first is how to best store these cards?
    My brother passed away and I would like to store them appropriately and value them, possibly selling a few to keep with cost of maintaining them but mostly to keep them for my son.
    Your site caught my attention because as he was born in 68 he was a HUGE Steelers fan.
    Any input would be so great!

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